Narcolepsy is the uncontrollable desire for sleep or sudden attacks of sleep. Daytime sleepiness is the primary symptom of this condition. Three more unusual symptoms also associated with narcolepsy are: cataplexy, sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations.

 

Narcolepsy is a rare condition that affects approximately 0.05% of the population, with symptoms peaking between the ages of 15 and 20. Narcolepsy is marked by excessive daytime sleepiness which can be so severe that it interferes with functioning and sometimes results in unexpected “sleep attacks.” People with narcolepsy often report the associated symptoms of sleep paralysis, hypnogogic hallucinations, cataplexy, and automatic behavior.
Sleep paralysis usually occurs when the sleeper is lying in bed prior to sleep onset or after awakening. He or she is unable to move for a few seconds, minutes, or longer. Sometimes sleepers can move only their eyes. The episodes are generally harmless, although they can result in genuine distress for the sufferer.

 

Hypnogogic hallucinations also occur when the sleeper is lying in bed prior to sleep onset or after awakening. The sufferer may experience auditory, visual, tactile, or olfactory (smell) hallucinations for brief periods. People sometimes describe these as brief, dreamlike experiences. Although these experiences are not concerning to many, some people can have terrifying or disturbing hallucinations that cause them great distress.

 

Cataplexy is characterized by the sudden loss of muscle tone while awake. The sufferer may experience a mild, transient drop in muscle tone (e.g., a droopy arm or periods of clumsiness associated with dropping things), or may experience severe loss of muscle tone that literally results in falling to the floor, and speech can be affected during the attacks. Cataplexy is brought on by stress, fatigue, or the experience of intense emotion such as anger or joy.
Narcolepsy and cataplexy are so rare that healthcare providers often fail to accurately diagnose the problem. Automatic behavior refers to actions for which the person has no memory. Sometimes the sufferer reports that they are acting in a “fog.” For example, one woman with narcolepsy entered her dining room to find a beautiful vase on her table. She had no idea where it came from until she looked at her checkbook and realized that she had purchased it on a recent shopping trip. Both the vase and the shopping trip had been forgotten! Automatic behavior is due to severe sleepiness.

 

Narcolepsy is often diagnosed in a sleep laboratory facility. One diagnostic indicator of narcolepsy is the occurrence of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep on daytime nap testing. Narcolepsy is usually treated with stimulant medication to address daytime sleepiness, and tricyclic or other medications to address sleep paralysis, hypnogogic hallucinations, and cataplexy. These medications include stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin®), and pemoline (Cylert®) for sleepiness and fluoxetine (Prozac®) and venlafaxine (Effexor®) for cataplexy and associated symptoms. However, effectiveness is not guaranteed and some people may experience unwanted adverse effects. Two newer medications include modafinil or armodafinil (Provigil® or Nuvigil), which have been approved by the FDA to treat sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (Xyrem®), which relieves narcolepsy symptoms including cataplexy.

 

If you feel as though you have symptoms related to narcolepsy, please call Vida Sleep Center & Spa at 201 766 6471 to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified sleep medicine physicians to discuss your symptoms.
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Are your legs restless while you sleep?

 

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a sleep disorder characterized by leg discomfort during sleep, which is only relieved by frequent movements of the legs.
RLS occurs most often in middle-aged and older adults. It is worsened by stress. The cause is not known. RLS may occur more often in patients with peripheral neuropathy, chronic kidney disease, Parkinson's disease, pregnancy or iron deficiency.
RLS can result in a decreased quality of sleep (insomnia) with subsequent daytime sleepiness, anxiety or depression, and confusion or slowed thought processes from lack of sleep.
The disorder consists of sensations in the lower legs that make the person uncomfortable unless the legs are moved. The sensations usually occur shortly after going to bed but may also occur during the daytime.
There are several effective pharmaceutical treatments for restless legs. Your treatment is tailored to meet your specific needs.
If you feel as though you have symptoms related to RLS, please call Vida Sleep Center & Spa at 201 766 6471 to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified sleep medicine physicians to discuss your symptoms.
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Snoring is not always just annoying. It may be the symptom of a more serious sleep disorder called sleep apnea.
 
If you have sleep apnea, you periodically stop breathing while sleeping. You may stop breathing just a few times or hundreds of times each night. You may not breathe for only a few seconds or as long as two minutes. When you resume breathing, there may be a loud snort or gasp, and you may briefly awaken.
 
Sleep Apnea is a serious medical condition associated with increased risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, muscular spasm and pains, stroke, palpitations, diabetes, obesity, impotence, depression, memory loss, tiredness, driving/work-related accidents, poor immune system, and  most recent  research has indicated an association with some forms of cancer, such as breast cancer.
 
Sleep apnea is usually associated with daytime sleepiness because your rest is regularly disturbed. High blood pressure and weight gain are often associated with this disorder. Sleep apnea is most common in men who have high blood pressure, are overweight and snore, but anyone can be affected by this sleeping problem.

 

Defining Sleep Apnea

Among the most common sleep disorders are insomnia and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA causes people to stop breathing intermittently throughout the night. Obstructive sleep apnea affects an estimated 24% of men and 9% of women; about 10% of adults have chronic insomnia

In patients with obstructive sleep apnea, the soft tissues in the upper airway relax during sleep and block the flow of air. Respiratory effort continues during the event.

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  • An apnea is a complete occlusion of the airway and subsequent cessation of airflow for at least ten seconds.
  • Patients who suffer from apneas also tend to exhibit hypopneas, a partial occlusion of the airway that results in a 25-50% reduction in airflow.
  • Both apneas and hypopneas lead to oxygen desaturation and intermittent hypoxia.
  • More than 42 to 64 percent of men with snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are impotent. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) afflicts more than 24 million individuals in the United States. -One in 3 men and approximately 1 in 5 women who are habitual snorers suffer from some degree of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • People with sleep apnea subconsciously awaken many times a night — even dozens of times an hour — because their airways close, disrupting their breathing. Sleep apnea sufferers often snore heavily and are tired during the day.

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If you feel as though you may have sleep apnea, please call Vida Sleep center & spa at 201 766 6471 to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified sleep medicine physicians to discuss your symptoms.
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